Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Labor of Love

It's been two months today (already) since Clyde passed away. Really, it is hard to believe that as much time has passed as it has.

Like I did when Nigel died, I wanted to put together a "Clyde Album" made up of pictures, captions, memories, and other items celebrating Clyde's life. Today, I finally started the "writing" aspect of it; the toughest, of course, because it will bring out a lot of emotions as I do so. But, really, that IS part of my objective; part of MY grieving and healing process.

Up to now, I'd bought the album, compiled the pictures (no mean task, considering we're talking 15 1/2 years of pictures pulled from a variety of sources) and started putting the pictures into the album. Frankly, I was feeling a bit guilty, because, by the time Nigel had been gone for two months, his album was nearly finished; here, I've barely started with Clyde's!

So, I sort of wondered if this was like how new parents typically spend a lot of time and effort on baby books and the like for their first child, but, by the time the second one comes along, well, maybe there are some pictures in a drawer somewhere! So, because Nigel was the first of the two and the first to go, I was more committed to doing his album?

But, as with parents, this isn't the case at all. Life is different this go-around; I wasn't home a good portion of the past two months, for one thing. Also, as I told Mr. B, I think I was purposefully holding off on doing this because I knew it was going to make me sad and I didn't want to feel sad.

I'm ready now; not to feel sad, especially, but, to celebrate Clyde's life by walking down memory lane with him. It might take me a bit longer than it did with Nigel's album, but, the end result won't be any less thoughtful or any less a labor of love.

Once I got going today, I managed to do quite a few pictures/captions. Here is what will go into the album as the first Clyde memory:

Clyde Memory: Bringing Clyde Home
October 31, 1992

For some time, the ex and I had contemplated getting Nigel a little brother for a friend and companion. There was never any doubt that the new kitty would be a boy, and, having never had a grey cat in my life, I decided I really, really wanted a grey cat. So, knowing that we’d ultimately bring a new kitty home for Nigel (and us!) we were content to wait for the right one. The right kitty presented himself to us on Halloween Day 1992. I was in the local pet store buying some things for Nigel. I happened to look up on the “advertisement” wall and saw an ad that said something like this, “6 kittens, all male, 5 yellow, 1 grey, free to good home”. Well, to me, this seemed to be “the sign”! So, when I got home, I talked to the ex and he agreed we should go check out the grey kitty. We called the number and were told all of the kittens were still available and, yes, please come on over!

We did. And, I must say, that entire experience was like something out of a weird movie. The woman (and husband) had a nice house near where we lived. Inside, though, were so many cats roaming around that I lost count. And, ugh, the place smelled like you wouldn’t believe; there were piles of cat barf all over the place, plates of empty or half-empty cat food, cans of opened cat food, etc. Frankly, it was just plain disgusting. The ex and I exchanged glances as we were not sure if we wanted any sort of creature from this environment! But, we figured that we’d come this far, may as well check out the grey kitty. The (somewhat strange) woman told us he was out in the garage with his brothers. So, we all trooped out to the garage where we immediately saw the five yellow cats in various locations around the garage; on top of a car, up on a freezer, etc. As we waited for the woman to locate the grey kitten (he was nowhere to be seen), we wandered around the garage looking at his brothers. I must say, they all looked exactly alike and they were none-too-friendly, either. At least two of them took swipes at us with their paws as we walked past. So, again, we were not sure how this was all going to turn out, we certainly didn’t want a feral cat. The woman, who by this time had finally located the grey kitten (hiding under the car, of course!) stood up and apologized for the other cats’ behavior saying, “They aren’t too nice, they are sort of wild, but, this one” as she held him out to me, “Well, he’s really sweet. I call him my Grey Baby”. I took him in my arms and, of course, knew from that second that this little guy was going to go home with us. I remember that he looked up at me; his eyes locked on mine, and he started to purr that fantastic rumbling loud purr of his. The ex looked him over and agreed that he was a keeper. So, the woman told us she’d give him a flea dip and bath for us if we wouldn’t mind waiting. She took “Grey Baby” back and we went into the house. While we sat there watching her bathe him, her husband came into the house. He was a nasty piece of work, I’ll tell you; he grumbled something about being glad to get rid of one of those “damn” cats. I am pretty sure that this mean character was THE reason why our new kitty was so fearful for so long about anything coming near his head. The woman told us that the kittens’ mother, a stray, had them on their porch and, not too long afterward, disappeared. I guess she recognized a house that was “cat-friendly” (to a degree, anyway). Later, this explained why our new kitty had this odd habit for awhile of sucking on the back of my hand (weaned FAR too soon); in fact, the woman said she’d had to feed several of the kittens with an eye-dropper. While cleaning “Grey Baby”, the woman was cooing to him, cuddling him; in general, looking like she didn’t want to give him up. She started fretting that it was Halloween (and perhaps we were going to take him and sacrifice him, I guess!) In any event, the ex wasn’t taking any changes; he snatched him up mid-towel rub, shoved him into my arms, said, “Thanks a lot!” to the woman and started pushing me out the door. I felt sorry for her; she looked so sad! She asked me if I would call her in a few days to let her know how her “Grey Baby” was doing and I said I would. And, I did; and when I did, I told her his new name was Clyde.

To see the rest, you'll just have to come on over and check it out...whenever I manage to get it finished!

Mrs. B

Monday, April 28, 2008

Road Trip to Springfield Missouri: Day Three

We had a fantastic time at the Laura Ingalls Wilder house(s) and museum today! Boy, what fun it was to see the houses she lived in, but, also (and maybe even more so), items she’d written about, such as Pa’s fiddle. The museum was full of information, pictures (many of which I’d never seen); in essence, so much history of this special woman’s life. There was also a goodly portion of the museum dedicated to their daughter, Rose Wilder Lane (someone I knew basically nothing about beforehand but, from what I’ve discovered, she was interesting in her own right but, how should we say, probably very high maintenance).

Before we got to the site, we ventured to “downtown” Springfield to have breakfast at a place I’d discovered over the Internet (it had great reviews) called Gailey’s Breakfast Café (and, of course, we also had a buy one get one free coupon). The place is located in what appeared to be a refurbished bank building. Everything in it was delightfully cheerful; right down to our waitress who simply oozed happiness (review follows).

We arrived at the museum, etc. around noon. Perhaps because it was mid-week, there were not very many other people there. In fact, the only other people I saw (aside from the docents, all “elderly” ladies who sat around knitting and talking about which Lean Cuisine was their particular favorite) were a young-ish couple (the male part of said couple looked decidedly bored and neither one of them said anything during the tour of the farm house) and an elderly Japanese man (in the museum) who was really interested in the apple trees in the orchard but didn’t have enough time to go on the tour or look in the museum. We spent a few minutes in the museum but were quickly shepherded out to watch a 10 minute film on Laura’s life (in which there were two or three quick sound-bytes of Laura’s voice; that was cool!) and then on to the tour of the farm house. Probably my only beef about the entire experience was that the tour was so fast; and, although the docent was friendly and knowledgeable, we both felt we were rushed through, which wasn’t really necessary given the fact no one else was waiting to go on the tour.

Anyway, one real interesting coincidental thing was, that, on a table in their dining room, there was a church fan (of the type that, I guess, people were handed during church services when it was hot). One of those “weird, freaky things”; it was the exact same one as one my mom has on one of her tables at home! That made mom’s day!

Given that the house was started in the late 1890s and pretty much completed by the early 1900s, it was amazingly modern (the Rock House that daughter Rose had built for them on their property (where they lived for 8 years while she took up residence in their farm house) even more so).

Mrs. B Poses Near the Farm House

I’d say we spent over two hours in the museum looking at everything in great depth. Afterwards, we went up to the Rock House for its tour. Finally, after taking several pictures of the property, we drove over to the cemetery to see Laura, Almanzo and Rose’s final resting place. My review of the Laura Ingalls Wilder historic site and museum follows.

Mrs. B's Mom and Pretty Scenery

Wilder Grave Site

Lucy did well by herself in the room; we left her for about 8 hours. She was happy to get out, though, and romp around in the grassy area outside of the motel. She’s been pretty regular poop-wise, too!

Mom and I played more Gin (we’ve ping-ponged back and forth over the lead, I’m currently ahead by a mere 34 points) ate some Cheez-Its and drank some wine. Later, we went back downtown to have dinner at Trolley’s Downtown Café and Grille (right around the corner from Gailey’s Breakfast Café, as it turned out). I was so pleased to discover that they had Fat Tire Beer (from Colorado and it’s been almost impossible for me to find it since I left Colorado in 2000) on tap! Restaurant review follows.

Mrs. B and Mrs. B's Mom Ready To Dig In

Now, we’re back in our room and it’s time for me to wind down after this wonderful day! Oh, and we only got one license plate today, IA.

Mrs. B
I'll post the three reviews I mentioned next time. This entry is too long already!

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Not too long ago, we watched the movie "Rock Star" (or, rather, I should say I watched it again; Mr. B watched it for the first time). It's a fun movie, especially if you grew up in the 70s/80s and remember the days of rock bands like the fictional Steel Dragon.

At the end of the movie, the main character (who has gone through a lot of soul searching) sings a quite poignant song called "Colorful". I've loved that song since the first time I heard it.

Here's a video clip of the end of the movie/that song
And, here are the lyrics:

Colorful (The Verve Pipe)

The show is over close the story book
There will be no encore
And all the random hands that I have shook
Well they're reaching for the door
I watch their backs as they leave single file
But you stood stubborn, cheering all the while

I know I can be colorful
I know I can be gray
But I know this loser's living fortunate
Cause I know you will love me either way

Most were being good for goodness sake
But you wouldn't pantomime
You are more beautiful when you awake
Than most are in a lifetime
Through the haze that is my memory well
You stayed for drama though you paid for a comedy

I know I can be colorful
I know I can be gray
But I know this loser's living fortunate
Cause I know you will love me either way

Look ahead as far as you can see
We'll live in drama but we'll die in a comedy
I know I can be colorful...

For anyone who has lived "one life" and let it go and realized that the people that are still with you/stuck behind you no matter what are ALL that matter in the end, you'll get some special meaning out of this song, I'm sure.

Mrs. B

Friday, April 25, 2008

Road Trip to Springfield Missouri: Day Two

Mom and I had another nice day of driving! The drive to Springfield took longer than I thought it would, though (even though it was actually less miles; 490). We left at 8:03 am and arrived at the La Quinta South in Springfield at 5:07 pm. Some of this was likely due to the fact that we hit a lot more traffic (especially leaving Nashville) than we did yesterday plus there was some road work. Finally, several hours of the trip (after we crossed over the Mississippi into Missouri) were on a two lane road through winding, curving mountains (the Ozarks).
So, yep; left Nashville “on schedule”; got The Goose loaded up into the back of the Escape before we packed the car so that she’d figure out she was going, too (and calm down). It did the trick; she pretty much laid down and went to sleep while we re-configured a better way to load up.

The Goose Gets Ready to Rumble

We ate at McDonald’s for breakfast again; something about being on a road trip and eating breakfast at McDonald’s seems 100% natural to me. Bacon, egg and cheese biscuits this time!

We stopped around 1:00 pm for lunch; actually STOPPED, too. At a Sonic. I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten at a place where a car hop brings your food out to your car! It was probably with mom sometime in the 70s! Anyway, the food was good (even though they did not have decaf coffee, which seemed strange to us). So, mom loaded up on the full strength stuff and I had a diet Cherry Limeade which was QUITE yummy. Plus food, of course.

Mom took over driving once we were in Missouri and took us on to the motel. License plates were scarce today; we only got two (LA and OR).

They were right when they advertised being “pet friendly”; they were excited to see Lucy! It seemed sort of weird to walk her into a motel with all interior rooms; I kept thinking we were doing something wrong and should be sneaking her in under a towel or something.

Our room is nice; a lot bigger than the Red Roof Inn (but also about double the price, so, there ya go).

Mom and I walked to the restaurant we’d picked for dinner (one of the reasons we picked it was it was within walking distance of the motel; less than ½ a mile). So, it wasn’t a long walk but it sure was a windy one; we had to walk INTO the wind, too. By the time we got there, we both wondered why we’d bothered fixing our hair.
The food at the restaurant, Valentine’s, was “ok”. The portions were absolutely HUGE; we both had the lasagna which was made with ground hamburger (not Italian sausage) so it was sort of bland. The mid-western take on Italian, I guess. The waiter was real friendly; although, he DID seem a bit perplexed that we’d driven all the way from Durham NC just to see the Laura Ingalls Wilder homes/museum. Review follows.
We must have looked pretty desperate or pathetic walking back to the motel after dinner; it was still quite windy and perhaps we were walking all huddled up or something, but, some young lady pulled up next to us and asked us if we needed a ride! We politely declined, of course, being that we were less than a block from our motel at that point (and I doubt I’d ever get into a stranger’s car, regardless of the situation or reason).
Lucy was happy to see us when we returned; she must have been despondent after we left her because she didn’t even take her Kong out of her food bowl! Hopefully she didn’t do anything more than mope around; I suppose if she caused any problem, we’d hear about it.

Both of us are really looking forward to tomorrow!

Mrs. B

“Would Give It Another Try” (3 out of 5 Stars)
Durham, North Carolina
Apr 23, 2008
My mom and I picked this restaurant because it was within walking distance of our motel plus we had a buy one get one free coupon. I had checked out the menu on-line before we left on our trip and thought it looked pretty decent.All in all, our experience was fine. Our waiter, Justin, was very friendly. The portions (we each ordered the lasagna) were HUGE; nothing came with it except a bread stick and definitely, unless one was VERY hungry, nothing else was needed.The wine list was ok; but, for an Italian restaurant, I would have expected more than one type of Chianti.Ok, the service was good and quick, the decor of the restaurant was interesting (even if the restaurant was located in a boring strip mall on a busy street) but, unfortunately, the lasagna was only so-so. Not very authentic Italian. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was made with ground hamburger (obviously Italian sausage would have been the better choice) and perhaps even canned or bottled sauce. In other words, although there was a lot of it, it was pretty boring and bland. I've had better at Olive Garden.Now, perhaps this was an off night for the chef and/or another selection might have been better so I wouldn't completely rule this place out (prices were reasonable, especially given the portion sizes; in fact, two moderate eaters could easily order, say, an appetizer to split or a large salad and share the lasagna, it was that large of a portion) and would likely try it again if I ever find myself in Springfield again!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Stop Blaming Others and Take Responsibility

Obviously, the title of this entry can cover a lot of topics of late. But, the one that I just read about in the paper is what prompted me to put down said paper and immediately blog about it. Also, the unfortunate incident took place not far from where I live.
Around 6:00 pm this past Saturday, an elderly man from Hillsborough went missing from his family. His family reported him missing about 11:00 pm; it took the Durham police another 90 minutes or so to issue a Silver Alert (similar to an Amber Alert for children except it means a senior person with dementia/memory loss is missing).
About 20 minutes after that alert was issued, the unfortunate man was hit by a car while walking down Highway 98 and Sherron Road (this is near the Food Lion shopping center roughly a mile or so from my house).
Ok, this is really, really sad for everyone. Certainly for the man's family, for him (I guess, perhaps he's happier being dead since he probably now remembers everything) and for the unfortunate woman who happened to hit him (I don't think she's being charged since it was 12:45 or so in the morning and she probably didn't expect some old dude to be wandering down the highway).
What has irked me this morning is the family is upset that the police did not issue this Silver Alert right away. They are saying IF they had, chances are, he would have been found before he was hit and killed.
Maybe that's true. But, hello? WHY did you wait over five hours to report him missing in the first place? And, why in the hell did you let this man DRIVE a car? What? He was DRIVING a car? Someone with his dementia condition/memory loss issues was operating a potentially lethal weapon? Yep, his family allowed him to drive a car from Hillsborough to somewhere, he was apparently following someone else (his wife) so they thought it'd be ok. Well, it wasn't; he got confused (they think) and took a wrong turn. The wife realized he wasn't behind her and pulled off, hoping he'd figure it out and come back the right way (remember, she KNEW her husband had dementia/memory loss problems and she was thinking he'd REMEMBER the right way?)
Anyway, the bottom line (IMO) is that these folks really, really messed up, and, as a result, a man is dead and another person has to live with the fact that she killed him. And these people are blaming the police for not issuing a Silver Alert 90 minutes sooner.
Give me a freaking break!
Mrs. B

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Road Trip to Springfield Missouri: Day One

Here we are; me, mom and Lucy, in Nashville, TN. So far, our trip has been easy; no issues!
Lucy and I left our house bright and early this morning; just a bit after 6:30 am. We arrived at mom and dad’s a bit before 7:30 to find mom ready and raring to go!
So, a smidge before 8 (which was our agreed-upon departure time from Pittsboro), we shoved off with me doing first driving duty.

Our drive was leisurely; looking for license plates (we got 26 the first day; the farthest ones being Rhode Island and Arizona), stopping at Mickey D’s for breakfast (mom says don’t bother getting the chicken biscuit), eating Cheez-Its and Gingersnaps for “snack” later and yakking, yakking, yakking away. In case anyone is wondering if we ran out of things to gab about during our five day trip (four of which were spent in the car all day), the answer is a resounding NO!

We actually drove through a bit of snow going through the mountains near Ashville (what a pretty, pretty drive, even in “snow") and then again outside of Knoxville, TN. We stopped a rest stop on the east side of Ashville to let the Goose out to do her “business” and stretch her legs. Boy, was she ever interested in the grass at that rest stop! We only had to fill up once for gas, near Canton, NC (I have to say that we spent just about an equal amount on gas this trip as we did for the four nights we stayed in motels. What does THAT tell you? Gas is EXPENSIVE, that’s what it tells you; why the hell is that since there is absolutely no shortage of it?) Mom took over driving near Knoxville and took us on to Nashville.

We arrived in Nashville at The Red Roof Inn (near the airport, right off I-40) around 3:30 CST (we gained an hour), having driven 508 miles (our directions said 508.8; pretty damn spot on, huh?) After checking into #123, I walked Lucy around the property and promptly lost an earring (I didn’t find it until the next morning while walking to the office to get our morning fix of Java; by the way; Red Roof Inn now has these really cool coffee machines (in the lobby) that makes decent lattes and mochas (in addition to regular coffee, tea and hot chocolate)).

After we somewhat got settled (no sense in unpacking since we were only there the one night), we cracked open a bottle of vino and took Lucy for a walk, cups in hand. We found a somewhat rundown neighborhood nearby so that’s where we went. About ½ way down the street, mom said, “Well, I sure hope there isn’t an open container law here, this IS Tennessee, after all!” We didn’t see any offices of the law but Lucy did spot two kitty cats (and promptly tried to chase after them).

Mom gets ready to go out to eat while Lucy says "ho hum!"

We ate dinner at a place near Opryland called John A’s (review to follow). We WERE going to go to a joint called The Plantation House but they were closed Mondays. Maybe we’ll try that on our way back through Nashville on Thursday.

After returning from dinner, we played some Gin (I was ahead by 5 points when we quit), took Lucy for another quick walk, and settled down to read up on Laura Ingalls Wilder.

So, tomorrow we plan on leaving around 8 to head on to Springfield. We’ve got some conflicting directions, but, I can’t imagine we’ll get lost!

BTW, it appears that Lucy is electing to sleep with Grammy tonight; she’s already up on her bed! She says, “Bully to you, mom!”

Mrs. B

Grammy and Lucy bunked down for the night in Nashville

Mrs. B's Review of John A's

“Decent” (4 out of 5 Stars)
John A's
Durham, North Carolina
Apr 20, 2008
I had planned my trip to use Entertainment coupons (buy one, get one free, etc.) for eating out. I found several places in Nashville near the motel we were staying at (Red Roof Inn, Nashville Airport). John A's was one of them; less than 10 miles away and easy to get to/find.I called before we left to make sure they were open; the only "bad" experience was that the person that answered the phone (a woman) was pretty terse.We found the place, and, realized quickly WHY she'd been terse, they were fairly busy and appeared to be under-staffed.Be that as it may, we sat down and were approached pretty quickly by a waiter, who was very friendly.We were there on a Monday night; we had draft beers for $1.50 each. The menu was decent; ribs, burgers, sandwiches, salads, some pasta dishes. My mom had a prime rib sandwich with cole slaw (to me, this looked more like a French dip) and I had a burger with sweet potato fries. The burger was great (fantastic pepper jack cheese) but the fries, although tasty, chilled off very quickly.Apparently, this place is an off-shoot of another famous place in Nashville where country music stars like Randy Travis and Garth Brooks got their starts. John A's DID have live entertainment, but, we did not stick around long enough to hear it.The only problem we had was resolved by our friendly waiter; the coupon we had for two for one didn't work. I'm really not sure why. But, he gave us a house coupon for a buy one get one free sandwich/burger, so, as that is what we got, it all worked out fine.My only complaint about the place wasn't the fault of the restaurant at all; rather, everyone around us was yakking away on their cell phones. Very, very annoying!John A's is very close to Opryland, so, extremely convenient for folks staying there/visiting the park, etc.If I'm ever there again, I would probably stop there again.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Road Trip to Springfield Missouri: Why On Earth Did We Go, Anyway?

Quite a few people raised eyebrows in inquiry when I said my mom, my dog and I were headed off on a road trip with the destination being a small town in Missouri! Actually, our REAL destination was to an even smaller town about 45 miles east of Springfield; Mansfield. Especially since this meant a total of four days of FULL driving (roughly 500 miles each day); all of this for one day in a dinky little town?

But, in actuality, it was a Mecca, of sorts, for a person such as me; who’d grown up reading books written by a certain Laura Ingalls Wilder, “The Little House Books”, as they are fondly known. The books, semi-autobiographical in nature, tell the tale of Laura’s childhood, teenaged years, young adulthood and her first four years of marriage. Her family, comprised of her Pa, her Ma and her sisters Mary and Carrie, were one of the original pioneer families, traveling from the big woods of Wisconsin (near a town called Peppin) to Kansas, Minnesota, and, eventually, settling in a very tiny town in South Dakota called De Smet (this was before SD was a state; the area was known as “The Dakota Territory”). I have since found out that the Ingalls’s actually somewhat ping-ponged back and forth from WI to KS, back to WI, to MN, on to IA (which is never written about in Laura’s books), back to MN and finally to SD; I suppose this would have been too confusing for young readers to follow.
Carrie, Mary and Laura Ingalls
Laura’s books are full of interesting tales of adventure, plus, simple normal things like not getting along with your older sister and being naughty and always looking forward to Christmas. The theme of the importance of family and friends figure prominently, as do ones of working hard, being honest, studying to better oneself, and, a lesson her father taught her be his sheer determination in the face of a hell of a lot of
adversity; never, ever give up.
Ma, Carrie, Laura, Grace (Standing); Pa and Mary (Sitting) ~ 1894
Laura had to remember these lessons into her married life. The first four years of her marriage to Almanzo Wilder (whom she called Manly; he called her Bessie (this is another factoid not really mentioned in her books)) were full of trials.
Laura and Almanzo Shortly After Their Marriage ~ 1885
Their stint at farming was not overly successful. They both became seriously ill with diphtheria; Manly was in essence semi-paralyzed as a result (this mostly because he went back to work far too soon). Their infant son died unexpectedly two weeks after his birth (he remained nameless and is buried somewhere near De Smet); leaving them with just one child, a highly intelligent but extremely precocious and trouble-prone daughter named Rose (who figured prominently, it is believed, in encouraging her mother to write her books; some say she was actually the one who wrote them (this I don’t believe)). Rose did turn out to be an accomplished journalist and author in her own right; in fact, she was the oldest journalist sent to cover the Viet Nam war in 1968.
Rose Wilder Lane As An Adult
The straw that broke their particular camel’s back was when their small farmhouse burnt to the ground (courtesy of a kitchen fire started by Rose). They all survived the fire but with only a few meager possessions to their name (some of which are on display in the museum at Mansfield).

Due primarily to these catastrophes but also to Manly’s poor health, the Wilder’s decided to move South. They tried living in Florida (somewhere in the Panhandle) for roughly a year but that was a complete disaster (Laura found the people there “distasteful” and the humidity wrecked havoc on her). They moved back to De Smet and lived with Laura’s parents for another year before deciding to move to “The Land of the Big Red Apple”, Missouri.

They left De Smet for good in the summer of 1894 along with daughter Rose and another family also headed to that general area. In Laura’s traveling lap desk (which Manly had made for her), they tucked away a $100 bill; their life savings; what they hopefully intended to use as a down payment on a suitable farm property in Missouri, assuming that they could find one to their taste.
It took them about six weeks to travel (by hack) to the area they eventually made their home for the rest of their lives; a small but promising town in the Ozarks of Missouri called Mansfield. It was here that Laura eventually wrote her books (8 in total; the last one in the series, “The First Four Years”, was published after her death and was based on a diary they found in her possession at the time of her death which she apparently kept during the early years of her marriage to Almanzo).
They built the farmhouse one room at a time as they could afford to do so. By the time it was done, it was quite the show piece in the neighborhood. For folks that had started their time in Mansfield in relative poverty, they’d really gone far; this success due to the productivity of their farm (apple orchards, other fruit bearing trees, cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and crops) came well before Laura’s achievements as a world-renown author.
Laura and Almanzo At Rocky Ridge Farm 1940
Before she wrote her books, she did, however, write for the local newspaper; highly entertaining little articles full of helpful hints and advice. This book, now available entitled “Little House in the Ozarks”, reminds me of a compilation of modern-day Blog entries!

The Wilder’s lived on their farm until their respective deaths; Almanzo in 1949 at age 92 and Laura in February 1957 just three days past her 90th b-day. For a woman who’d lived such a life of adventure and import, she died peacefully in her sleep in her farmhouse in Mansfield. The curators of the houses and museum on the property informed us that, as much as possible, everything in the house is as it was the night Laura died, down to and including the calendar hanging in the kitchen turned to February 1957.

Laura In Her Sixties

Laura Autographing Her Books For A Group Of Children

So, yes, this WAS a Mecca of sorts for me. A girl who grew up reading these books; and, in fact LEARNED to read on these books. My mom and dad told me that they recall me sitting in a quiet part of our house in San Diego, probably at age 6, reading one of her books out loud; sounding out the words as I went. My dad told Mr. B I used to come to him to ask him what certain words meant. So, in this way, my parents also “read” Laura’s books. It was fitting, then, that my mom came along with me on this special trip.

Mrs. B

Coming Soon: We Depart On Our Adventure!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I WATCHED TONS of Movies: Part Three

I had to change the title of this "series" to the past tense since, thank GOD, Busy Season is now over and I haven't watched a movie (by myself) since last Sunday. But, to continue my train of thought (which I'm not always so good at; "Flawed at the Core" being one example), I'll "review" the other movies I watched whilst I was a CPA Widow!
Into the Wild
My SIL already reviewed this (she watched it after I did) and did a good job at it, I might add. So, I won't add to much except to say that, it's been a long time since a movie got to me like this one did. One of those that I couldn't stop thinking about days after I watched it.
Briefly, it is the (true) story of a young dude (recently graduated from college) who chucks all things material and goes off on a grand adventure with his ultimate destination being Alaska. Along the way, he meets some very interesting characters who help him in their own different ways to achieve his goal. He finally DOES make it to Alaska, where he takes up residence in an abandoned bus. He learns a lot about nature, solitude, and himself. In the end, he realizes he DOES need people, maybe even the family that he ran away from. Alas...
The film was directed by Sean Penn. Is there any limit to what this talented man can do? The actors in the film were more than excellent; a great cast with no one taking more of their share of the lime light. I really enjoyed the soundtrack, too; compiled by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.
Was what this young man, Chris McCandless, did brave, misguided, or just plain stupid and thoughtless? I'll leave it up to y'all to decide if you elect to watch this film.
Mrs. B

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Another Road Trip!

Yep, The Goose and I, along with "Grammy", are off tomorrow on another adventure! This time, we're driving to Springfield, MO, so we can visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder home and museum near there (in Mansfield). It's going to take two days to drive there (and, so, two days to drive home). We'll spend Wednesday at the home and museum and head back Thursday (both coming and going, we'll stop over in Nashville, which is almost exactly half way there).
I know, it's quite a bit of driving for a one day tour, but, I have wanted to visit this place for so long and mom said (last year), "Sure, I'll come along!" Well, it just took a while to get it planned!
Here's a link to the home and museum. http://www.lauraingallswilderhome.com/

There are other sites, too. The Ingalls' family were original pioneers; coming from WI to ultimately Dakota Territory, via a lot of other places. Then, the Wilder's (Laura, her husband Almanzo and their daughter, Rose) migrated on to a farm in Mansfield, later known as Rocky Ridge Farm.
More upon our return!
Mrs. B

I've Been Watching TONS of Movies: Part Two

Sorry that my last entry only had one movie! I was learning how to embed videos from You Tube so wasn't sure if it was even going to work. Obviously, it did! Yey! But, these reviews of mine are pretty long, so, I'll probably keep them to one per entry.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Wow, what an intense movie! And, an excellent one (unlike another one I'll be reviewing later that came out around the same time; mid-70s). I had seen bits and pieces of this flick over the years, but, never in order/in one sitting. So, I purposefully decided it was time to do so. I was not disappointed (even though I knew what was going to happen at the end because I'd seen it at one point in time). This is one of those movies that is superior in just about every way possible; the acting, the directing, the screenplay; even the music. It's also one of those movies that makes you run the gamut of emotions: amused, disgusted, scared, annoyed, thoughtful, sad. If I'm not mistaken, a bunch of Academy Awards went to this movie and those folks associated with it, rightfully so.
So, jokes aside (I remember hearing this move referred to as "One Cuckoo Flew Over The Rest"), this is a tale of a guy, RP McMurphy (Jack Nicholson's character) that's sort of a low-level criminal. He keeps getting intro trouble in jail; won't work, acts crazy, etc., so, they send him off to a mental institution to be evaluated. While there, he inspires a group of male patients to stand up for themselves and to question authority (as illustrated by the nasty Nurse Ratched; an eerily and creepily excellent Louise Fletcher). The entire time he's there, he sort of thinks it's one big joke, but, as he comes to find out, it is anything BUT. There are other great performances by actors you'll recognize, Danny DeVito, for one.
And, I'll tell you; if you've ever known someone or loved someone that's been in a place like this AND have some control over it, you'll likely think twice before you ever allow them to go there again.
Mrs. B

I've Been Watching TONS of Movies: Part One

Another by-product of Mr. B being so incredibly busy these past few weeks (it's actually been longer but the past few weeks in particular he's been REALLY REALLY busy; this is why they in the business refer to this as THE BUSY SEASON) is that I've had the chance to watch a bunch of movies. I've mostly tried to pick ones that I think either Mr. B simply wouldn't care for OR ones that he's mentioned to me that he's already seen (but I have not).
So, here's a brief run down of the flicks that have been playing at The B's B&B:
Gone Baby Gone
This was directed by Ben Affleck, who, as most of you know, normally is on the other side of the camera. Like the movies he's collaborated on with his good friend Matt Damon, this one takes place on the tough streets of a dingy suburb near Boston (where, apparently, Affleck and Damon actually grew up together). Anyway, the cast is pretty good; lots of heavy-hitters (such as Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris) plus Affleck's younger brother, Casey (of the Ocean's 11, 12 and 13 movies plus he was recently nominated for his role in a Jesse James movie) and Amy Ryan (nominated for her role in this film for best supporting actress but she lost out to The movie is based on the book by the guy who wrote "Mystic River", Dennis Lehane
As I wrote in my NetFlix review, I wasn't really sure this movie would be that good, but, it turned out to be better than I thought; about the young daughter of a terrible young street-wise mother who gets kidnapped and all of the folks that get involved trying to track her down. At the end of the movie, the characters are faced with the proverbial question of "What is REALLY the right thing to do in this situation?", and, it's not a simple answer. I'd say it's definitely worth a rental.
Mrs. B

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Back When Folks Were Kind And Wise

I've lately been re-reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder series; you know, the "Little House" books. Also, I've been reading a great little book about "The Wizard of Oz" books.
What both of these have brought to my mind is this. It seems to me, that, "back in the day"; folks were kinder and wiser when it came to dealing with other people, difficult life situations, etc.
In addition to having a WICKED imagination (and I mean this in the current meaning of the word; meaning, absolutely fantastic), L. Frank Baum (of "The Wizard of Oz" books) had some real basic tenants that he was teaching children, which were, "Be kind, be good, behave".
And, I just read something in one of the Wilder books which REALLY made me realize we're all just put to shame in our day and age when it comes to being kind and wise (yours truly included, I admit shamefaced). Why is this? Is it because these folks were so busy trying to eek out livings and survive that they just didn't have time (or patience) for meanness? Did they simply believe it was more important (than we do now) to teach their children to be kind and wise?
I'm not really sure what it is. I would imagine that there are a lot of reasons, mostly not good ones, for how a lot of us are when we disagree with another person or just don't like something about them.
Anyway, Laura, the heroine (and writer) of the books, was recounting an incident where she "had it out" with her age-old nemesis, Nellie Olson. She, Laura, let her tongue get away with her and said something (pretty tame by our standards, BTW) that later caused a bunch of problems.
After she got a stern (but kind and wise!) lecture from her parents about how it is best to keep one's council and guard one's tongue, her mother, Caroline, wrote these word in her autograph album. The date was November 15th 1881. Some one hundred and 25-ish years later, we'd all be wise to heed them.
If wisdom's ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where
Mrs. B

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Brushing My Hair

I do want to post something since it's been a few days and my admiring public is waiting. But, lately, my allergies (or WHATEVER) have really been giving me a run for my money. Meaning, they are truly bothering me. And, in odd-ball ways. Sometimes, I feel "them" in my ears. Today, I actually feel "them" in my TEETH, or, rather, my gums. Why? What is it? The gunk dripping down from wherever; draining; and, getting to my teeth? Ack! Am I gonna get something like Meth Teeth? UGH!

Ok, so, I was digging around in my writing files and I found the following writing exercise. I think I wrote this three or four years ago. I got the exercise out of a good book entitled, "How To Become A Writer" (I should really finish reading this/doing all of the exercises).

I remember this one; it was HARD because the directive was to write about something very simple; a mundane task you do every day, like, brushing your hair. But, you were supposed to put as much detail in at as possible.

So, this is what I came up with. You try it, it ain't easy!

Mrs. B

Brushing My Hair

I walk into the bathroom, turning on the three light switches with my right hand as I do so. I look at myself in the mirror. Likely, I grimace; not liking what I see. I decide that my hair is messy and that it needs brushing down. I probably have not styled it at all and so it's really not looking so hot.

I reach down with my right hand and open up the third drawer (the one on the bottom). With my left hand, I rummage around the drawer to find my vent brush. I pick it up and brush down the hair on the left side of my face first. As I brush downwards, I flick the brush upwards as it hits the ends of my hair in order to sort of flip up the ends. I repeat this same thing for the hair on the right side of my face. More than likely, I do not pay any attention to the back of my head as I can't see it so it's not there. Next, I brush the hair on the left side of my face, the hair next to my left ear, over my left ear. I repeat the flicking of the ends motion. I repeat this for the hair on the right side of my face.

I pout and pucker my lips at myself in the mirror as I always do this and I don't know why.

I turn around and open the door of the white closet with my right hand and with my left hand, I take out the bottle of hairspray. I turn back towards the mirror without shutting the door to the white closet. With my right, hand, I fluff the back side of my hair up to puff it out some. I take the lid off of the hairspray bottle with my right hand and spray my hair with my left hand, using my right hand to continue to fluff and puff my hair and also to arrange my bangs to my liking.

I turn around and put the hairspray bottle back into the white closet (it is still in my left hand) and shut the door to the closet with my right hand.

I walk out of the bathroom and turn the lights off with my left hand as I leave.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Looks Just Like Lucy!

And, even more, it depicts her attitude perfectly. Heck, her leash is even red! The only thing that is missing is the poop bag tied to the handle of the leash!
Mrs. B

Saturday, April 5, 2008

May's Wine Time!

Yep, soon it's gonna be time for wine in North Carolina!
One of our new favorite wineries, Rock of Ages is having their annual "Cork and Pork" celebration on Saturday May 10th. We've never been (the winery isn't that old; we think this is their 2nd celebration) but we have been to the winery and their wine is more than decent. So, why not; we'll go! Music, wine and BBQ (their sauce is killer), what else could be better? Check it out
Then, woo hoo, the NC Wine Festival will be held on May 31st in Tanglewood Park (in Clemmons, NC, near Winston Salem). We've gone three times; it's always fantastic. Tons of wineries from North Carolina; some are duds, to be sure (unless you like "sweetie" wine) but here is where we've discovered some fantastic wineries, such as Rockhouse, Black Wolf, Lake James and Shelton. More than likely, Rock of Ages will be there, too this year.
Here's the link to the festival's site http://www.ncwinefestival.com/Index.cfm.
Hey, we've got this down to an art; we stay at the B&B (The Manor House) on site, therefore, we can imbibe all we want to and be responsible at the same time. This year, we're going to stay an extra night so we can golf. They have three or four courses on the property
The best part? Busy Season will be over and we can RELAX and ENJOY being together!
Mrs. B

Friday, April 4, 2008

One Word

As a by-product of Mr. B getting up early, Mrs. B is getting up earlier and earlier, too. Today, it was about 5:00 am.
So, this is about all I can muster right now, blogging-wise; not quite awake.
Survey courtesy of my pal, Kathleen (that lucky-duck who is, tomorrow, embarking on a cruise with her husband and son!)
Mrs. B

One Word

You Can Only Type One Word Answers. Not as easy as you might think!
1. Where is your cell phone?.... holder
2. Your significant other?....work
3. Your hair?....short
4. Your mother?....pittsboro
5. Your father?....florida
6. Your favorite thing?....vacation
7. Your dream last night?....lucy
8. Your favorite drink?....martini
9. Your dream/goal?....retirement
10. The room you're in?....kitchen
11. Your ex?....gone

12. Next vacation?....missouri
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years?....happy

14. Where were you last night?..... home
15. What you're not? ....ditzy
16. Muffins? ....fattening
17. One of your wish list items?....travel
18. Where you grew up?....california
19. The last thing you did?....thought
20. What are you wearing?....sweats
21. Your TV? on? ....No
22. Pets?....dog
23. Your computer?....laptop
24. Your life?....limbo
25. Your mood?....tired
26. Missing someone?....always
27. Your car?....SUV
28. Something you're not wearing?.... shoes
29. Favorite Store?.... target

30. Summer?....mexico

31. Like someone?....several
32. Your favorite color?....green
33. When is the last time you laughed?....recently
34. Children?....nope
35. Who will/would re-post this?....analee

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Here's a Quarter...Call Someone Who Gives a Crap!

That is, if you can even find a pay phone these days.
I won't blog about this too much, just on the off chance that our idiotic former tenants can actually figure out how to track down my Blog. But, given the fact that I don't think they could find their butts with both hands, it's doubtful.
Bottom line.
Our lawyer sent them a letter dictating all of their no-nos and what we wanted in compensation. A fairly large sum.
He also told them that if he didn't receive said payment from them by a certain date, they'd be sued the following day.
Needless to say, he did hear from them, but, their response was, in a word,
Basically, it was a pity ploy; almost an appeal (to OUR lawyer, mind) to look at their side of the story and consider how mean the B's were to them and how we don't have any compassion.
A long, violin accompanied sob song about The Old Bat's physically disabilities, how they didn't know she'd have such trouble living in the property because they rented it sight unseen (what, did they just fall of the stupid truck on top of it all?), and, get this, she couldn't even take a bath there because she couldn't get into the tub (too deep) and she couldn't stand up long enough to take a shower.
So, she started developing body sores and ended up having to be driven across town (to one of the two other houses she owns, I guess) to take a bath.
Hello? Did you ever hear of those little stools you can buy to put into showers? In fact, that shower HAS a seat built into the wall.
Anyway, this was the first time we'd heard this one, but, it doesn't matter because IT DOESN'T MATTER! None of this was valid enough reason to walk away from her legal and financial obligations. And, of course, she did walk away; she slunk away, hoping we'd never find her or follow up on this.
Of course, we DID find her, and, now she's "quite shocked" at several of our "allegations".
Like what, Batty? That you owe us money and we want it back? That we aren't a charitable organization? That you lied about your cat being declawed? That you have sub-standard ideas of what constitutes "clean"?
The best part? The letter was written WITHOUT them having the lease in front of them. Turns out they "misplaced" it. They actually had the nerve to ask our lawyer to send them a copy!
Well, they'll get our response soon; basically it's "Stop dicking around and pay up or we're gonna sue you".
Mrs. B

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Saved from Being a CPA Widow

So, this is the time of the year that really sucks for CPAs (and anyone that is related to them) because, as you know, April 15th looms. Mr. B has been basically working insane hours since early February, but, as the deadline approaches, the hours have become beyond insane. And, with less than two weeks to go, it's only gonna get worse. Poor, poor Mr. B.
In the meantime, yours truly has been going a bit bonkers. It's not that I can't find stuff to do all day (I can); rather, after a time, one craves HUMAN contact. I mean, it can be gratifying to carry on meaningful conversations with Lucy; she's always sympathetic and never argues with me, but, well, she never SAYS anything either, so, it is a tad one-sided!
My sister in law (NO SCHIST) invited me over to their house yesterday and so I went and spent a very enjoyable afternoon with her and Kendal. Then, my brother came home and we talked for a few hours (standing in the kitchen, of course) about all sorts of things. Joy! Real, human adult conversation (not that I minded Kendal's baby inputs in the least, either!)
So, today, I feel refreshed and ready to deal with a few more days solo.
Here are a few pictures of Kendal from yesterday. What a cutie!

Mrs. B

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Weekly Newspaper Toss and Ditch

Well, it's Tuesday, which means this is the day Mrs. B and Lucy, while out on our walks around our neighborhood, start "Ye Olde Weekly Newspaper Toss and Ditch".
Every Saturday, one of our local papers delivers to EVERY house in the development (and probably the city) a supplement called "The Durham News". If one subscribes to the paper, they get this supplement twice; in their Saturday paper and also as an aside.
Frankly, this irritates me and always has for a lot of reasons, but, mostly it is because it is a waste of paper to deliver something weekly that the majority of the people that are receiving it didn't ask for it and ignore it. Also, for those of us that go off on vacations from time to time, calling up and stopping your regular subscription does NOT keep this particular supplement from being tossed on your driveway (or somewhere nearby), which sort of defeats the primary purpose for suspending ones subscription (so as not to alert people that you are not home).
Of course, I guess in our neighborhood, one definitely could NOT make that assumption because NO ONE picks up this damn thing!
Hence, "Ye Olde Weekly Newspaper Toss and Ditch".
On Saturdays, as we walk, I think to myself, "Oh boy, look at all of those newspapers (meaning, the supplements). But, it's too early to start picking them up because some people actually do pick theirs up. Maybe they even read it. But, most folks just leave them lying there in their driveway, on the sidewalk in front of the driveway, on the street in front of the sidewalk in front of their driveway, in their grass, near their mailbox; wherever the newspaper morons happen to have thrown it (WHY can't they at least get them up into people's driveways? I mean, c'mon, the STREET?)
By Sunday, a goodly portion of the newspapers are gone but just as many are still lying there, despite the fact that the owners of the houses are out and about, mowing their lawns, backing out of their driveways to go to church or out for breakfast or to the park or wherever they are going. They go, the newspapers stay. Still, I don't start picking them up yet, mostly because there are a lot of people out and about and I'm not really interested in getting yelled at.
Monday is my favorite day, by which I really mean, it's my "I totally can't believe this" day. Why? Well, it's the day that the recycling comes and most people have their blue recycling bins out. Of the houses that still have their paper lying around Monday morning, you'd be surprised how many of them actually LEAVE it lying there, despite the fact that someone in that house has hauled their recycling bin down to the curb. Hell, sometimes that paper is lying right NEXT to the bin and they still couldn't be bothered to pick the damn thing up and toss it into the bin.
Sometimes on our Monday afternoon walk and if I'm out before the recycling guys come, I'll walk around picking up the stray papers (in the case of this week also extremely wet and soggy papers) and throw them into recycling bins.
So, by Tuesday morning, I'm ready to start the toss.
If a paper is within easy reach of our path, I'll pick it up and toss it onto the driveway that I think it belongs to.
This morning, I did this roughly five times. There were a few others that I wanted to pick up, but, there were people (from other houses) in their driveways so I walked on; I'll likely get them this afternoon.
By Wednesday or Thursday, there won't be too many left lying out in the streets (but you'd be amazed how many of the ones I tossed up into driveways are STILL there; some of these houses have a nice collection going).
Last Friday, I walked by a house that I've been playing a nice game of "toss" with that entire week. I tossed the paper onto their driveway Tuesday morning, by Wednesday morning, it was back out on the street. So, I tossed it back up onto their driveway, by Thursday morning it was back out on the street (and, by the way, I know it was the same paper because it was basically disintegrating, it was so old and wet). So, Friday afternoon, there it was again out on the street. This time, I picked it up and tossed it up to their front porch, where it hit the front door with a loud thunk.
I stood there, a 44 year old woman with a dog, wondering if I should run! This sort of reminded me of the "doorbell ditching" game we'd play as kids, run up to a door, knock on it or ring the bell, and then run like hell away and hide.
Well, I didn't run; instead I said quite loudly, "Dispose of your (you-know-what) paper! Nobody opened the door, BTW.
Today, I noticed that that paper was STILL on their porch.
So, it's amazing to me, it really, really is.
First, why does the paper insist on delivering this supplement to people that obviously do not want it and also, why can't they improve their throwing techniques?
2nd, OK, so, you didn't order this paper, but, heck, you've got it! Why aren't more people picking it up and reading it (then disposing of it properly)? Doesn't anyone around here CARE about what's going on in this city?
And, finally, PICK IT UP! I don't get how people can just walk by and ignore something lying there on their property, especially once it gets old and ratty and soggy and starts to embed itself into their driveways.
What IS it with people?
Well, I am happy to report that, since we've started "Ye Olde Weekly Newspaper
Toss and Ditch", more people ARE picking their papers up on their own.
So, maybe we're getting a point across to some of them.
Mrs. B